As college tuition rates increase, applicants forced to make hard decisions

Caitlin Holland, Editor-in-chief

I’ve been accepted to the one college I applied to — a school known for its strength in my intended major.

At first I thought this was great. I couldn’t have been happier with my decision to receive a quality education and get a little bit away from Kansas. I applied only one place because I was just so sure.

But the closer we come to graduation, the more I think about the dark side of my dream school.

Paying close attention to the news recently, all high school students have cause for alarm.

Many public institutions plan to raise tuition substantially for the 2011-2012 school year. For example, the university I plan to attend is expected to raise out-of-state tuition from around $27,000 a year to $32,000.

Unfortunately, this puts kids and parents in tough situations.

More and more students opt to attend junior or community colleges rather than in-state four-year institutions right out of high school. And more and more students are forced to say goodbye to their out-of-state school dreams because of rising tuition and a tough economy.

I feel this pain.

I worry so often about whether or not I am wasting my parents’ hard-earned money on an expensive school for a major that, many say, lacks promise.

I worry that I may struggle with college courses and fall behind, forcing my parents to either shovel more money into the college pit or say goodbye to my master’s degree dreams.

And, most of all, I worry I won’t make it in the job market and the education I received will be, essentially, worthless.

It’s hard for us, as broke high school students, to imagine so much money going toward one thing, and not even something tangible.

Education.

We get all the fun — the campus tours and extremely well-designed, simple, yet elegant pamphlets sent through the mail from schools we only vaguely know exist.

Our parents and families get the short end of the stick. They get to fund this amazingly promising future we hold. Our parents contribute, essentially, thousands of dollars in an investment for our futures.

That’s quite a bit of trust to put in kids our age.

That’s quite a risk to take on a person who has never lived on their own before.

For example, my mom still worries about my inability to wake up to my alarm clock every morning. She gives me a hard time about how I’ll accidentally sleep through all my morning classes in college.

While I get frustrated because she keeps bothering me about this, I do understand that a fair amount of her money will be invested in that class.

She has a right to be concerned.

The best way to avoid feeling guilty or uncertain about paying for college is to begin talking with parents about it before second semester senior year.

Early in junior year, when all students prepare to sign up for ACT and SAT exams, is a good time to sit down and look at what schools are realistic to continue an education.

After taking college admission tests of choice, begin applying for scholarships. Remember — every little bit of money helps.

Just because a scholarship found on Fastweb.com isn’t a full-ride doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the time of day.

And, most importantly, remember each of us only has one life to live.

Should we choose not to go to our dream schools and study what we want because we’re afraid to fail?

No.

Some may call it recklessness or just blame it on youth, but I have a hard time giving up on my dreams this early in life.

And it’s not a bad thing.

We should be confident in ourselves and not be afraid to pursue our dreams.